Clear skies ahead for Park City business
The Park City Chamber/Bureau held its annual Economic Forecast Luncheon Wednesday, Feb. 5, and president and CEO Bill Malone said he is once again "cautiously optimistic" about what 2014 holds for Park City in terms of hospitality and tourism.
Looking back, Malone described the 2013 as "relatively robust but below retention." The government shutdown in October affected how much money the hospitality industry brought in, but Malone said it could have been worse for Park City if it had taken place later in the year.
Malone’s optimism comes from looking back at 2013 in review in terms of transient room, restaurant and retail sales tax revenue. The transient room tax is charged on hotel rooms and other lodging properties for overnight stays and submitted to the state every year. The state then gives that money back to the county where it was generated.
Overnight visitation in 2013 peaked where it usually does, Malone said, during the Sundance Film Festival as well as the week during which Christmas falls.
In the first quarter of 2013, $3.2 million in transient room tax was collected, the city made $50 million in restaurant tax sales, and retail brought in $515 million. Numbers dropped significantly in the second quarter to just over $500,000 in transient room tax, $23 million in restaurant tax sales and $247 million in retail.
The third quarter of the year, summer going into the fall, numbers increased in all three areas to just under $900,000 in transient room tax, $33 million in restaurant tax sales and $324 million in retail. Malone said he attributes the increase in numbers to the increase in summer marketing.
"[Summertime] has picked up substantially over the last few years," Malone said. "A lot of that is meeting-and-convention business, mountain biking and keeping the September to October time frame pretty robust."
Fourth-quarter numbers are not in yet, but Malone said he is expecting good things given a successful holiday season. Going into 2014, he is "cautiously optimistic" based on the two indicators he said have a lot of bearing on the town’s performance: snowfall and the stock market.
While he said neither has been a friend of Park City as of late, there is still plenty to look forward to in the next year. An advanced booking snapshot taken on Dec. 31 showed a 12 percent increase in reservations in January, an 8 percent increase in February and a 5 percent increase in March.
Malone added that "business on the books" for the first six months of the year was up 10 percent. He also announced a new opportunity the hospitality industry will be taking on this summer, a "Grub Crawl."
"It is put on by Bon Appetit Magazine and will only take place in five cities in the U.S.," Malone said. "It will take place in New York City, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and Park City."
Delta Airlines also recently announced they plan to expand operations and services at Salt Lake City International Airport by 8 percent over the next five years, he said, and summer marketing and events will continue to grow.
When looking at the economic forecast for 2014, Malone said he is looking forward to a great year.
"I think if you were to use a song as an analogy for 2014, I would use The Beatles’ ‘It’s Getting Better All the Time,’" he said.